AJC’s Mr. Georgia Basketball discusses UGA recruiting trip, plans visit to Georgia Tech, and confirms contact with North Carolina Tar Heels

The AJC’s Mr. Basketball reflected on his recruiting trip to UGA on Wednesday night, said he will visit Georgia Tech within the next few days, and confirmed that yet another national powerhouse has made recent contact.

Who is the new school interested in Westlake High’s Marcus Thornton? It’s none other than North Carolina and coach Roy Williams. Thornton confirmed only that he has talked with the Tar Heels, and politely declined further comment at this time. He wouldn’t say whether or not it was too late in the process to consider another school.

If North Carolina's Roy Williams contacted you at the last minute, what would you do?

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But the 6-foot-7 power forward had plenty to say about his recruiting trip to UGA on Monday: ”The Georgia coaches said I’d be the first Mr. Georgia Basketball to go to UGA in a long time,” Thornton said in an email. “It will be an opportunity to help (the program) turn around, help Georgia to become a powerhouse, and begin to attract other top in-state players.”

Thornton on UGA coach Mark Fox: “Coach Fox likes for his team to get up and down the floor.  He likes to run the triangle offense, which is the offense that was used for both Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.  Coach Fox seems to know how to get the best out of each player.”

Thornton on his role at UGA: “Coach Fox says Georgia is in need of a versatile 3-man and felt that I could develop into that role in their system.  He also felt that there was a chance for me to step in and compete early, with Travis Leslie playing more of the 2-man.”

Academics will also be a major factor in the college decision for Thornton, who is an Honor Student with a 3.7 GPA. Thornton’s parents, Billy and Meril, were impressed with UGA president Michael Adams and athletics director Damon Evans.

“As a former UGA athlete, (Evans) exhibited the most passion when he talked about the many resources and policies he has put in place to improve the academic success and graduation rate of UGA student-athletes,” Billy said. “For example, he has instituted a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for habitual ‘missed classes’ by UGA athletes.  Violation results in an automatic multi-game suspension.”

Do you know me? I was Mark Fox's mentor (AP photo)

Do you know me? I am Mark Fox's mentor (AP photo)

What’s next for Thornton? He will meet with Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt over the next few days, and then decide between Texas, UGA, Georgia Tech and Alabama before or on his high graduation date of May 21.

Thornton originally signed with Clemson, but was granted a release from his letter-of-intent from the Tigers after coach Oliver Purnell was hired away by DePaul. Purnell was a main reason Thornton picked Clemson. Over the past month, Thornton turned into one of college basketball’s hottest prospects, fielding more than a dozen offers, including Kentucky, Florida, Michigan and Memphis.

As a senior, Thornton led Westlake to the state championship game in Georgia’s largest classification, averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds.

RELATED: Twin brothers of NFL first-rounder Eric Berry are star attractions of Georgia high school’s spring football practice (click here)

60 comments Add your comment

Hoops Dawg

May 12th, 2010
10:51 pm

Well, all I can say is that coach MF pretty much hit the nail on the head in describing the impact Marcus can have at Georgia. Land him and a couple top players next year and the Stegasaurus will be rocking on a regular basis. I want to see that place become a place where other teams fear to tread!

Jason

May 12th, 2010
11:11 pm

He’s coming to Georgia Tech.

CHAMPS

May 12th, 2010
11:19 pm

UGA has a men’s basketball team? Nope, not buying it.

19th Hole Dawg

May 12th, 2010
11:31 pm

Good luck to the Thorntons. Sounds like a class act family. I hope he ends up at UGA, but I think he’ll be just fine wherever he ends up.

Bubba Phillips

May 12th, 2010
11:32 pm

Don’t you just love a**holes that sit around begging for someone to write an article about UGA so they can make a dumba** comment…what a life! or lack of a life!

bwell

May 13th, 2010
12:10 am

Please come to UGA. We in-state players to stay and attend UGA. Mr. GA B-ball player.

[...] It’s none other than North Carolina and coach Roy Williams. Thornton confirmed only that he has talked with the Tar Heels, and politely declined further comment at this time. He wouldn’t say whether or not it was too late in the process to read more.. [...]

What/who UNC wants...

May 13th, 2010
6:34 am

…UNC gets – so, if they really want him, it’s a done deal…

TheNumber34

May 13th, 2010
6:44 am

Marcus, amongst the schools you are considering, Coach Fox is by far the best teaching coach. Is there more glamour in playing at other places than UGA, no doubt, but two things are certain: 1) you’ll be prepared when the time comes for you to step into the NBA 2) you’ll be revered by your home state folks for the rest of your life. Coach Fox, Trey Thompkins,Travis Leslie are building it…come be the man who solidifies it.

Jimmy Grubbs

May 13th, 2010
7:06 am

Sounds like Marcus is good enough to sign with the University of Memphis – a real basketball school.

Brunswick Tech

May 13th, 2010
7:52 am

I would love to see him along side G Rice next year.

UGADawg

May 13th, 2010
8:01 am

Sorry Mr. Georgia Basketball but the worst thing about our basketball team is fan apathy! 95% of Bulldog nation just does not care about the basketball team. Sure we’d like to hear (not watch) that the team is doing well but we really could care less. I would still love to see you come to Athens but that is as a selfish fan. Reality and compassion insist I give you forewarning to go elsewhere where basketball is appreciated rather than treated as a stepchild by the fans.

cw

May 13th, 2010
8:21 am

Jason, seriously? Why on earth would this kid or any kid want to play for Paul Hewitt? You guys need to fire that clown and start over. Just don’t take Mark Fox

TechSux

May 13th, 2010
8:22 am

You Tech fans can say what you want about UGA b-ball but it’s not like you have a
perennial powerhouse. Coach PH will screw him up just like he did Bosh and Favors.
He had the second most talented team in the conference and still below .500

Douglas

May 13th, 2010
8:31 am

UGADAWG: you are so wrong. I went to UGA when Durham was hired as a coach. As soon as he got talented players to come and started winning, people came to the games. Even when Harrick was there and they started winning, people came to the games. So stop running your mouth when you don’t even know what you are talking about.

blord

May 13th, 2010
8:41 am

Douglas get a life i’m a uga grad also and uga dawg is right no one cares bout uga basketball other than the parents of the players

blord

May 13th, 2010
8:44 am

Let me add that at least Stegman was good for one thing and that was to let the football team dress there for years.

Jimmy

May 13th, 2010
8:53 am

UGA goes 14-17 and their fans are pleased. Georgia Tech finishes runner-up in the ACC, makes it to the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament, and yet their fans are somewhat disappointed. Need I say more about the history and expectation level of the two programs. Come to Tech Marcus, if you want to be a part of a real basketball program, one that makes the postseason regularly and has a pipeline of NBA players. Not to mention you can earn a degree from one of the top pubic colleges in America.

Morrus

May 13th, 2010
9:10 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.

Sven Ottke

May 13th, 2010
9:18 am

Can you UGa fans that spout “Coach Fox will prepare you for the NBA” give me one single example of him recruiting a player and preparing him for the NBA? Just one.

THE TONE

May 13th, 2010
9:25 am

Top Pubic college in america ( now thats funny ) good one Jimmy !!!!!

GT DADDY

May 13th, 2010
9:32 am

UGAY HOOPS?? ARE YOU KIDDING? HOW MANY GUYS ARE IN THE NBA FROM THAT DUMP OF A PROGRAM? EVEN WHEN TECH DOES NOT MAKE THE NCAAS, WE STILL PUT GUYS INTO THE NBA ALMOST EVERY DAMN YEAR! YOU WANT TO PLAY IN THE LOADED ACC, OR THE SEC WITH A TOTAL OF 2 GOOD TEAMS? TENN AND KENTUCKY, THAT’S IT! HEY, DIDN’T TECH BEAT UNC 3 TIMES LAST YEAR WITH ALL THERE MCDONALDS ALL-AMERICANS? ALL 8 OF THEM ON THE ROSTER TO BE EXACT! UGAY IN HOOPS, LETS GET SERIOUS PEOPLE…

anotherdawg

May 13th, 2010
9:34 am

OK Sven, Kirk Snyder, NBA first round pick

anotherdawg

May 13th, 2010
9:35 am

GT DADDY, BUT YOU DIDN’T BEAT GEORGIA!

THE TONE

May 13th, 2010
9:36 am

hey thats right about tech being a better basketball program . they have more championships than (oops sorry on that point ) now that i think about it he will probably be a tar heel.

anotherdawg

May 13th, 2010
9:38 am

Also, Fazekas and Sessions, NBA second round picks

GT Bball Fan

May 13th, 2010
9:44 am

Good luck to Marcus where ever you decide to go, even UGA and UNC. Smart kid that wants a quality education, in addition to being a great athlete. I wish more recruiting stories involved kid’s talking about getting educated as well as playing with the best against the best. Your parents should be very proud.

UGAg – While Marcus is considering your school, don’t be confused that you have some how created a Basketball legacy or following. Your program(is it even a program or a football after thought?) had less fans than Illinois at a home game last year. Support your team first, then talk trash on a blog.

Da'reek

May 13th, 2010
9:54 am

Also.. he recruited Luke Babbit and Armon Johnson, both guys are potential 1st round picks this year from Nevada.

Some of you guys need to come to reality. Georgia is an up-and-coming program, with some great players, a great coach, and great academics. Georgia Tech has proven to get to the tournament and compete with the best in the country, as well as having great academics. He wouldn’t be wrong to pick either school but as a Georgia fan, I think he would have a large role in continuing to turn the program around. I want to see him in the red & black and sounds like he had a great visit. If he goes to Tech or UNC, good luck to him, he’s a good kid and he knows what he’s doing…

cdog

May 13th, 2010
9:55 am

marcus thornton, your career will be good in the cademic and athletic area at the university of georgia.coach fox is the right coach to play for.not only will he develope your skills athleticly but as a person also.you will not have to worry about being in the background on the court.you will be the man right away.see in athens in sept.

CrackDaddy

May 13th, 2010
10:11 am

While there may be some internal conflict over which FB stadium I’d rather play in, Kenan or Samford, there’s no debate over which BB arean I’d rather play in, Dean Dome or Stegman.

Sven Ottke

May 13th, 2010
10:26 am

Wrong again. Snyder, Fazekas and Sessions were under Trent Johnson. Nice effort but well below the mark.

Sven Ottke

May 13th, 2010
10:36 am

Also interesting you would note that Fox is assisting Babbit and Johnson develop their game for the NBA considering they are at Nevada and Fox coaches at UGa. But I did note that after Fox left Nevada, Babbit’s rebounding, assists, points and FG % all went up playing roughly the same amount of minutes and starting the same amount of games. Johnson’s points, FG %, field goals and assists all went up with the same amount of minutes and same amount of starts as well. But you can keep on dreaming the dream.

anotherdawg

May 13th, 2010
10:37 am

This is official Nevada website crediting Fox with these players development. Read and decide for yourself. My thinking is if Nevada gave him credit for all this, then so do I. http://www.nevadawolfpack.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=10000&ATCLID=530559

anotherdawg

May 13th, 2010
10:43 am

I would hope that Babbit and Johnson would get better as they continue to develop. You can spin this any way you want, but Mark Fox is a great coach! Ask any coach that has played against him.

Voice of Reason

May 13th, 2010
11:05 am

blord – You may be a UGA grad, but you don’t know what you are talking about. Prior to Butts-Mehre, the football team had a field house where the academic center is and that is where they dressed for practice. Your comment is typical of so many here, either acting like you know something or PRETENDING to be a Dawg fan.
As far as Stegman goes, the Tech facility is no where near as nice. The coach is a nice guy, but can’t coach either. I suspect he will be gone after next year.

TechSux

May 13th, 2010
11:07 am

just wondering if all you tech “fans” commenting on your tradition and great program are
the same ones who wanted to run Coach PH out of town throguhout the year

josh

May 13th, 2010
11:11 am

GT Bball Fan

May 13th, 2010
11:37 am

As far as Stegman goes, the Tech facility is no where near as nice.

What a joke of a comment. Stegman is one of the worst BBall facilities in the SEC and would be the complete worst in the ACC. GT’s BBall court is nice enough to welcome the WORLD for Olympic boxing. Stegman welcomes South Georgia for a freakin rodeo. BIG DIFFERENCE!

UGADawgIDIOT

May 13th, 2010
11:39 am

UGADawg you are such an IDIOT to say that you are for UGA and then knock a sports program like that. Go away. You should be taken outside and beaten. Go root for another program. We do NOT want your kind around here anymore. What a loser!!!

Dawgs97

May 13th, 2010
11:47 am

We may or may not get Marcus – I am a Dawg fan who won’t sit here & make any assumptions. I will say that wherever he signs, even if it’s Tech or UNC or Texas, he sounds like a class kid from a GOOD family. No reason for anyone from any fan base to bash this kid – whatever he does.

My 2 cents in just the Tech vs. Georgia comparison is this: Paul Hewitt’s tenure is of a dead man walking. He almost left for St. John’s–but stayed at the last minute. He’s underachieved for five years straight and his much higher ranked Yellow Jackets keep losing to the Dawgs. If Hewitt under achieves one more season, Georgia Tech will fire him after this year. Something for Thornton to think about.

On the other hand, Mark Fox over achieved in year one with some key victories and a very thin roster that only carried two serious players. Fox will be at UGA for a while and to most analysts at ESPN and elsewhere, is one of the best young coaches anywhere in the country. So, if Marcus is comparing coaches, things to consider.

Now Tech fans, I am not here ripping your school or anything like that. On the contrary. Tech has a great basketball history and hoops tradition. They will get that back – with the next coach. In fact, I’ve seen a ton of Ga Tech fans on here ripping Hewitt so I am not going out of bounds at all here from what your own fan base is saying.

Look, as a Georgia fan, we just went through 5 years of below average basketball under Dennis Felton. No way did we even deserve top recruits with a guy like Felton. Felton is thankfully gone and now we have Mark Fox who’s got an amazing basketball mind and boundless energy. If Tech is smart, they’ll get a Mark Fox type after they fire Hewitt.

Anyway, I am a Georgia fan not ripping Tech, just pointing out a fact about your head coach that you guys have pointed out as well.

Jason

May 13th, 2010
12:17 pm

cw maybe if he wants to play in the tourney and go to the NBA. And don’t worry Mark Fox is the last coach I want at GT. Dude leads UGA to a losing record with 2 first round picks and all the sudden he is a great coach according to UGA fans. LOL

Delbert D.

May 13th, 2010
12:23 pm

If he is going to be a one-and-done, that 3.7 GPA is going to make the one semester that he has to fully commit to easier.

Jason

May 13th, 2010
12:31 pm

Uh dude isn’t a one and done.

Charles

May 13th, 2010
2:27 pm

GT Bball Fan – I’ve spent plenty of time in Stegeman and the ‘Thrillerdome’. Tech’s concourses are nicer, while Georgia’ bowl on the interior is nicer. Unfortunately for the jackets, Georgia is currently redoing the entire facade and concessions area as we speak as part of a $12 million renovation. They’re also updating the locker rooms. Not only that, but UGA has a state-of-the-art practice facility ($33 million) that’s world-class that’s attached to the Steg – that’s where the player lounges are and where the players spend the vast majority of their time. Tech’s basketball gym is every bit as dank and antiquated as Georgia’s and you have no decent practice facility to speak of. I’m sure you’ve never been inside the Steg, so I wouldn’t think you’d really understand, but beginning this coming hoops season, Georgia’s basketball facilities will put Tech’s to shame…Ask Marcus Thornton after his visit to the flats if you don’t believe me.

Face it, we’re rich in the SEC. It’s that way because of the football deal, and in turn we’re able to focus resources on hoops. Tech is poor and getting poorer every day Hewitt stays locked into that joke of a contract. It is what it is…

HugoStiglitz

May 13th, 2010
2:52 pm

If this guy has a legitimate chance to go to UNC then he would be a fool not to take it. He would play in front of one of the best basketball crowds there is and play for one of the best coaches in the game today. Not to mention UNC is great academically, which he seems to care about. He would be a fool to turn all of that down. I would love for him to come to Ga Tech but UNC would be awfully hard to turn down.

GTechsta

May 13th, 2010
4:14 pm

Uh Charles, not that you are clue-less but Tech just build a state of the art practice facility itself. Not that the AJC would report it like they did UGa’s. And the Thrillerdome is also undergoing a dramatic renovation as well. To compare the current hoops environment is a joke. Tech’s is dank and antiquated? Then UGa’s smells like rodeo pigslop. No comparison. Tech’s is better hands down.

Charles

May 13th, 2010
5:27 pm

Tech’s state-of-the-art practice facility isn’t so state of the art. It’s a shoddy, make-shift bunch of nothing compared to UGA’s that was built on a miniscule budget. It’s a total joke – that’s why the AJC didn’t report on it. School’s around the country are building lavish facility’s like UGA’s, which deserves press. The one Tech built was scaled back from the original plans not just once, but twice…because your AD is completely broke. UGA’s used to be used for rodeos in the old days, but no longer. The bowl is actually nicer than Tech’s with fold-back, cushioned seating everywhere as opposed to bleachers, and it’s actually a pretty nice place to watch a game since the last round of renovations…but I’m sure you’ve never been there. Believe me, I’d be up front and honest with you if Tech’s were nicer…just like I said earlier about the concourses. It’s just not. Sorry.

Jason

May 13th, 2010
6:41 pm

I haven’t seen UGA’s practice facility but GT’s is pretty damn nice.

Charles

May 13th, 2010
6:47 pm

It’s really not, Jason…built on a shoe-string budget and doesn’t contain the player lounges and amenities the top-notch ones do…it’s basically just a court.

Larry

May 13th, 2010
8:34 pm

Ummm lets take a look at the whole picture….a chance to play along side Harrison Barnes and John Henson,inside the Smith Center for Roy Williams,you do the math